105 Franklin St, South Hill, Virginia

Observations in Tragedy

South Hill United Methodist Church

Observations in Tragedy

26 In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. 27 The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will. 28 We know that God works in all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:26-28

The last few weeks have been tough. Just as we ramp up for fall, we have a tragedy in the church and community, as well as significant disasters elsewhere. For me, this reminds us that we have to never let our guard down; that life can change in an instant. Reflecting on all that’s going on has reinforced for me two things.

  1. God works wonders in the midst of tragedy. While I do not believe that God causes tragic events, I do believe that God is able to work in God’s own mysterious ways in the middle of them to change evil toward good. God’s capacity for transformation is unbounded. Already, I have seen faith conversations around topics we don’t normally like to discuss. This is good, and will help us all grow. Already, we have seen incredible response to disaster from a variety of Christian organizations and churches that far exceeds expectation or government ability to do so. God’s people do amazing things when we can come together in action.
  2. Our actions matter. The choices we make do make a difference. We can choose to follow God’s plan or not, because God gives us the blessing and curse of free will. When we choose well, lives are transformed for the better. When we choose poorly, lives can be shattered or even destroyed. Seek God’s plan and guidance, and then strive to follow it. God’s plans are always better than our plans, even when we can’t see how. God doesn’t fall prey to the selfish nature built into every one of us. What I think is best for my selfish nature in the moment may not be best for me nor those around me.

I follow up with these observations with the invitation that if there is ever anything I say or write that causes you conflict or challenges your faith, please feel free to come speak with me about it. Sometimes, it is not feasible to share the more in depth processes that go behind some statements in a larger setting. My role, as the resident theologian at this church, is to deepen each of our walks in faith with greater understanding and trust. On occasion, that requires a shift in thought or belief that might need some discussion and prayer to sift through. I’m here for you. I’m here to help you in your struggles, with your questions, and in your determination to seek and to follow God’s will. Let us all look for God’s transforming power in the midst of life (and sometimes in spite of it) while we strive to choose God’s plan over our own. It makes a difference.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Brian Siegle

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